Tampa Jazz Notes — Kenny Drew Jr. Memorial; O Som Do Jazz at HCC Ybor; Diana Krall at the Capitol

Aside from a piece in Jazz Times and some blog posts (including mine, below, and those in Jazz Truth, JazzWax, and via WUSF News), the late great pianist Kenny Drew‘s passing hasn’t attracted much attention in the music press or in mainstream newspapers. I didn’t see any notice of Kenny’s death in his hometown paper, the Tampa Bay Times, or in the New York Times, which often notes the deaths of major musicians. (Correct me if I’m wrong).

Kenny, who died on Aug. 3 at age 56, will be honored by friends, family, colleagues and fans during a memorial service Saturday Aug. 23 at McCabe United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg. The memorial will be held at 11 a.m. at the church, 2800 26th Ave. South.

“His genius will be missed,” as noted in an announcement sent by the Tampa Jazz Club, home to many concerts featuring Kenny, including a terrific trio performance in May.

That trio, with bassist Joe Porter and drummer John Jenkins, recently released a CD, titled “The Music of Tom Becker.” As of now, it’s available via download through CD Baby and Amazon.

A memorial fund for Kenny has been established through his church, Unity of Midtown, 511 Prescott St., South, St. Petersburg, FL 33712. Donations can be made by checks payable to “Unity of Midtown” or via PayPal. More info is here.

**********

O Som Do Jazz, the Brazilian/jazz band led by trombonist/composer David Manson, plays the Tampa Jazz Club’s first show of the fall season — Sunday, Sept. 28 at 3 pm at HCC Ybor’s Performing Arts Building. More details.

SPC prof Manson, singer Andrea Moraeas Manson, saxophonist Austin Vickrey, pianist David Cubillos, bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Mark Feinman will play music from the band’s two recordings. Two tunes from the group’s “A Kiss From Rio” recording were heard on the HBO series “Looking.”

**********

The good news: The jazz-rooted singer and underrated pianist Diana Krall is returning to the Tampa Bay area, with a show Dec. 14 at 7:30 pm at the the Capitol Theatre in downtown Clearwater (concert affiliated with Ruth Eckerd Hall). She’ll be joined by a first-rate band — guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Dennis Crouch, fiddler Stuart Duncan, drummer Karriem Riggins and keyboardist Patrick Warren.

The not-great news: It’ll cost you an arm and a leg to attend this show, as tickets START at $102.25. Seriously? Sure, it’s an “intimate” setting, but that’s about four times what you’d pay to see a show in the world’s greatest jazz club, The Village Vanguard in NYC. ‘Sup with that?

Details.

 

Duduka da Fonseca Quintet, “Samba Jazz—Jazz Samba” & Brazilian Trio “Constelacão” (CD review)

(Recently published in Jazziz; direct link)

Duduka da Fonseca Quintet, “Samba Jazz–Jazz Samba” (Anzic)

Brazilian Trio, “”Constelacao” (Motema)

Duduka Da Fonseca, the Brazilian-born New York drummer and percussionist probably best known as a member of award-winning cooperative Trio da Paz, in recent years has placed a greater emphasis on his quintet with tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Anat Cohen, pianist Helio Alves, guitarist Guilherme Monteiro and bassist Leonardo Cioglia. By default, the group offers a wide range of textures, all of which limn the artfully arranged, rhythmically engaging pieces on Samba Jazz—Jazz Samba.

Cohen’s clarinet might be the disc’s not-so-secret weapon, given the warmth and richness of her tone out front on a reading of Jobim’s “Rancho Das Nuvens,” also featuring Alves, that opens at a slow, stately pace, later accelerating for a short while before simmering down again. It’s a beauty, and Cohen’s clarinet is similarly deployed on a lovely reading of Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks,” all serpentines and shades of melancholy.

There are plenty other moods, tempos and soundscapes, too, including the twisting guitar-and-tenor melody and starting-stopping sections of Dom Salvador’s opening “Depois da Chuva”; a pleasantly grooving take on Ornette Coleman’s “Blues Connotation”; the leader’s light and airy “Flying Over Rio”; and the syncopated, speedy rhythmic figures and catchy tenor/guitar head of the closer, “Melancia,” penned by Rique Pantoja.

Da Fonseca, Alves and bassist Nilson Matta constitute the Brazilian Trio, which, naturally, draws from some of the same sources but is often more muscular and sometimes swings a bit harder than the quintet. Recorded with tremendous clarity and resonance, Constelacão gives the drummer some, with a tumbling, percolating-to-exploding display near the end of the title track.

But the focus is trio synchronicity on beefy tunes like “Embalo,” Jobim’s “Quebra Pedra,” the second half of Matta’s “LVM/Direto Ao Assunto” and Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia,” as well as gorgeous ballads “Luiza” (Jobim) and “Isabella” (Da Fonseca). Exquisite stuff.

Tampa Bay Area Music Calendar (An Entirely Subjective and Selective Listing)

(Feel free to send concert info, including corrections/updates. This list is not intended to be comprehensive.)

  • Donna the Buffalo, Jan. 7-8, Skipper’s
  • Byron Stripling and the Florida Orchestra: Louis Armstrong tribute, Jan. 7-9 (Straz Center, Mahaffey Theater, Ruth Eckerd Hall, respectively)
  • Michael Ross Quartet, Jan. 9, Palladium Theater
  • Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Jan. 13, Crowbar
  • Marcia Ball, Jan. 14, Skipper’s
  • Mofro, Jan. 15 (w/Daryl Hance) and 16 (w/Damon Fowler), Skipper’s
  • Infinite Groove Orchestra (CD release show), Jan. 15, The Local 662,  St. Petersburg
  • Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Jan. 15, New World Brewery
  • Galactic, Jan. 20, Ritz
  • Drive-By Truckers, Jan. 21, Ritz
  • Terrance Simien with the Gumbo Boogie Band, Jan. 21, Skipper’s
  • SPC Jazz Festival: Helios Jazz Orchestra with Denise Moore, Jan. 27, SPC Music Center
  • SPC Jazz Fest: Alex Berti Trio, Jan. 28, SPC Music Center
  • McCormick Marimba Festival, Jan. 28-29, USF Music Recital Hall, Tampa
  • SPC Jazz Fest: Ronnie Burrage Trio, Jan. 29.  SPC Music Center
  • Robin Trower with Sean Chambers Band, Jan. 29, Jannus Live
  • Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith with Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues, Feb. 4, Skipper’s
  • Diana Krall, Feb. 4, Ruth Eckerd Hall
  • Yonder Mountain String Band, Feb. 5, Jannus Live
  • Dark Star Orchestra, Feb. 12, Straz Center
  • Willie Nelson, Feb. 16, Ruth Eckerd Hall
  • Whitney James, Feb. 19, Palladium
  • Arturo Sandoval, Feb. 24, Ritz Ybor
  • Ira Sullivan, Feb. 27, HCC Performing Arts Building, Ybor
  • Old 97’s with Those Darlins, March 2, Skipper’s
  • G. Love and Special Sauce, March 12, Jannus Live
  • The Avett Brothers, March 25, Ruth Eckerd Hall
  • Acoustic Africa, April 10, Straz Center

———-

VENUES AND PRESENTERS

Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association

Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater

Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N., Ybor City (Tampa); (813) 241-8600

Dali Museum, 1000 Third Street S., St. Petersburg; (727) 823-2767

EMIT series; (727) 341-3463

Enoch Davis Center, 1111 18th Ave. S., St. Petersburg; (727) 893-7134

Hillsborough Community College Performing Arts Theater, Palm Avenue and 14th St., Ybor City

Jannus Live, 1st Avenue N. & 2nd Street N., St. Petersburg; (727) 565-0550

La Grande Hall @ Yamaha Piano, 6710 Ulmerton Road #101, Clearwater

Mahaffey Theater @ Progress Energy Center for the Arts, 400 First Street S., St. Petersburg; (727) 892-5798

Marriott Hotel, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd., St. Petersburg

Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive N.E., St. Petersburg; (727) 896-2667

Musicology, 2576 Sunset Point Road, Clearwater; (727) 723-1000

New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Avenue, Ybor City, Tampa; (727) 248-4969

The Palladium Theater at St. Petersburg College, 253 Fifth Avenue. N., St. Petersburg; (727) 822-3590

The Ritz Theatre, 1503 E. Seventh Avenue, Ybor City (Tampa); (813) 247-2555

Royal Theater, 1011 22nd St. Petersburg; (727) 327-6556

Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N. McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater; (727) 791-7400

Sacred Grounds Coffee House, 4819 E. Busch Blvd., Tampa; (813) 983-0837

Skipper’s Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa; (813) 971-0666

The Studio @620, 620 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg; (727) 895-6620

Straz Center, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa; (813) 229-7827

Tampa Bay Blues Festival, Vinoy Waterfront Park, downtown St. Petersburg; (727) 502-5000

Tampa Jazz Club

USF Monday Night Jazz Series

———-

2010

Vincent Sims and the Sidewinders: A Tribute to Blue Note – Aug. 13, Palladium, 8 p.m.

Sunday Jazz at the Royal Theater: Ron Gregg Trio featuring Billy Pillucere and Richard “Stretch” Bruyn with Jeremy Carter – Aug. 15, Royal Theater, 4 to 8 p.m. (open mic for musicians and vocalists)

Natalie Merchant – August 24, Ruth Eckerd Hall

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers + Joe Cocker – Sept. 16, St. Pete Times Forum

Hammond B3 Summer Spectacular: Joe Crown Trio with Walter Wolfman Washington and Russell Batiste + John Gros + Dave McCracken: – Aug. 21, Palladium, 8 p.m.

Kings of Leon + The Black Keys + The Whigs – Sept. 18, USF Sun Dome

Rush – Oct. 1, Ford Amphitheatre

Clearwater Jazz Holiday (lineup TBA) – October 14-17, Coachman Park

Ybor Jazz Fest – Nov. 3-7, HCC, Ybor City

Roger Waters: The Wall – Nov. 16, St. Pete Times Forum

 

Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing Trio, Live in New York (CD review)

The spirit of Gypsy jazz is alive and well in the hands of Mark O’Connor, the virtuoso Nashville violinist who demonstrates his aptitude in that rarified genre on Live in New York (OMAC), the third CD from his aptly named Hot Swing Trio.mark-oconnor

O’Connor, guitarist Frank Vignola and bassist Jon Burr swing as one on a lively set, recorded in 2004 (and originally released in 2005), that has the group applying the folk-rooted jazz tonality and phrasing reminiscent of violinist Stephane Grappelli (Burr’s former boss) and guitarist Django Reinhardt to a rangy mix of music.

The leader’s “Gypsy Fantastic,” built on a friendly melody and quick tempo, gallops along and builds in intensity as O’Connor and Vignola play bravura back-to-back solos and then trade fours. Close your eyes and focus on these players’ dazzling dexterity and the gorgeous acoustic textures, and it’s not difficult to imagine being relocated to another place, another time — say, a small, smoky club in Paris, circa the ’30s.

That piece is one of the disc’s five O’Connor originals, including the blues-based “Anniversary,” a mini-suite that shuttles through several rootsy genres; bouncy Joplin-esque gem “M & W Rag”;  the nicely grooving, color-shifting “Funky Swing”; and “Fiddler Going Home,” a poignant ballad honoring the late Claude “Fiddler” Williams.

Jazz and pop standards are in the mix, too, with a sweetly swinging reading of Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” a high-flying run through “Cherokee,” a strolling take on Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and, opening the set, the Gershwins’ “Fascinating Rhythm.”

Slamming things to a close is O’Connor’s inventive, breakneck arrangement of “Tiger Rag,” a tune dating back 92 years to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s recording. The Hot Swing Trio’s work on that piece — and everything else here — must have really been something to hear, and see, live. For those (like me) not fortunate enough to catch that performance, the CD makes for a pretty great consolation prize.

Jazz Bassists on Parade: David Finck, Ben Wolfe, Anne Mette Iversen, Bill Moring

Jazz sessions led by bassists long ago stopped being the exception to the rule.

Notable bass-playing sidemen — from Ron Carter and Dave Holland (Miles Davis) to Charlie Haden (Ornette Coleman), from Christian McBride to practically every four-string anchor who’s backed Chick Corea, including Stanley Clarke, John Patitucci and Avishai Cohen — successfully graduated from character actor to lead roles, applying distinctive, readily recognized tonal conceptions and compositional approaches to their own projects and tours.

Last year was no exception, with a flood of fine bass-led CDs, including the eclectic Esperanza (Heads Up), a mix of jazz, Latin, Brazilian, pop and funk from rising star Esperanza Spalding, also an affecting singer; Richard Bona‘s rambunctious, live Bona Makes You Sweat (Decca); Charlie Haden‘s Americana-rooted  Rambling Boy (Decca); and  Todd Coolman‘s Perfect Strangers (ArtistShare), an unusual project incorporating tunes penned by little-known composers (see my earlier post).

Also notable were a pair of ambitious sets of compositions and arrangements — Windy City musician Larry Gray’s 1,2,3 (Chicago Sessions), a trio recording with guitarist John Moulder and drummer Charles Heath, and Roberto Occhipinti‘s jazz/Latin/Brazilian/classical project Yemaya (ALMA).

I reviewed several of the above for major music publications.

Herewith, a quartet of other bass-led CDs deserving of greater attention:

david-finck1The David Finck Quartet, Future Day (Soundbrush) — Finck, a reliably supportive presence on sessions by Latin and Brazilian jazz artists, offers a singing tone and typically sturdy rhythm work on this top-shelf collaboration with vibraphonist Joe Locke, pianist Tom Ranier and drummer Joe La Barbera.

The swing, on tunes like “Four Flags,” with aggressive solo turns by guests Jeremy Pelt, on trumpet, and Bob Sheppard, on tenor sax, is clean and hard driving. Locke, throughout, is a wonder – casually virtuosic and, on the gorgeous “For All We Know” and elsewhere, he turns in improvisations marked by clever twists and unexpected phrasings.

The arrangements, too, offer pleasant surprises, including a 5/4 version of “Nature Boy” (a redesign suggested by La Barbera);  a haunting take on Wayne Shorter’s “Black Eyes”; and the closing “Firm Roots,” by Cedar Walton, with more bracing improvisations  by Finck and La Barbera.

(Finck’s next appearances: April 25, San Raphael , California with the Manhattan Transfer; April 26, Denver, with the Manhattan Transfer; May 16, Washington DC with Sheila Jordan; May 22, Cambridge, Mass with Steve Kuhn Trio; May 29-June 1, Blue Note New York with John Faddis)

ben-wolfeBen Wolfe, No Strangers Here (MaxJazz) — Wolfe, best known as an eminently reliable, steady-beat wood chopper for the likes of Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall and Wynton Marsalis, mixes and matches his quartet (tenor and saxophonist Marcus Strickland, pianist Luis Perdomo, drummer Greg Hutchinson) with a string quartet and several guests on a set of dynamic originals.

The strings blend gorgeously with the band on the vintage-sounding, slow-swimming title track (and elsewhere), and Branford Marsalis raises the artistry of the proceedings even higher, playing soprano on the strolling “Milo” and tenor on “The Filth,” a dirty, twisting blues. Trumpeter Terrell Stafford also makes impressive guest shots, on the start-stop contours of opener “The Minnick Rule” and the aptly titled closer “Groovy Medium.”

anne-metteAnne Mette Iversen: AMI Quartet with 4Corners, Best of the West/AMI Quartet, Many Places (BJU Records) — Band meets string quartet, too, on Best of the West, a heady jazz-meets-classical outing led by Danish-born NYC bassist Anne Mette Iversen. New York/New Orleans tenor saxophonist John Ellis turns in a wonderfully buoyant conversation with the rhythm section and strings on the opening “North” and the searching “North West”; and Iversen’s sensitive work as an improviser is showcased on “North East.”Synchronicity is the byword for this set of intense, often intensely beautiful music.

Also included in this two-disc release is Many Places, which has the same quartet, absent of the strings, sounding considerably more loose and relaxed, and turning even more creative. The bright, swinging “Out the Atlantic” and the delicate “The Square in Ravello” are just two of many gems composed by the leader.

billmoringBill Moring & Way Out East, Spaces in Time (Owl) — The two-horn line of trumpeter Jack Walrath and saxophonist Tim Armacost frontloads Moring’s second CD with plenty of grit and heft, starting with funky opener “Sweat,” penned by Walrath.

Moring shows off his talents as a composer on the ballad-to-Latin piece, “Mary Lynn,” which opens with bowed bass and has Walrath turning in a muted solo; the pensive ballad “A Space in Time,” glued together, like other tunes, by Steve Allee’s electric keys work; and the chunky “iHop,” cued open with a grinding bass line and drummer Steve Johns’ chunky backbeat. The quintet drives furiously on Ornette Coleman’s “The Disguise.”

Tampa Jazz Notes 1.21.09: Jon Metzger, Ira Sullivan, Jazz at Lenny’s, Gumbi Ortiz

metzgerThe Monday Night Jazz Series at USF (Tampa) kicks off this Monday, Jan. 26, with a performance by vibraphonist, composer and educator Jon Metzger. Also coming soon:

  • The Mindy Simmons Trio’s tribute to Peggy Lee, Friday at the Palladium (Side Door Jazz)
  • The USF Magic Marimba Festival/Conference, this Friday and Saturday on the Tampa campus
  • Big Sam’s Funky Nation, from NOLA, Friday at the Crowbar
  • Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Tuesday at the Van Wezel.

For more details on the above, check out my concert calendar.

The Wednesday night jazz jam session at Lenny’s Latin Cafe in Temple Terrace is alive and well, and continuing tonight. Drummer Don Capone and pianist Chuck Berlin preside. 7 to 10 p.m. Free admission.

Ira Sullivan turned in a typically artful, warmly engaging performance during his Tampa Jazz Club concert, Jan. 11 at the Springs Theater, a former movie theater converted into a recording studio/concert space.

The longtime South Florida jazz giant, 76, mixed and matched instruments — tenor and soprano saxophones, trumpet, cornet, flute — on two long sets, backed by a top-rank trio of Florida-based musicians: pianist Michael Royal, bassist Richard Drexler and drummer Danny Gottlieb.

The quartet turned in plenty of gems that could very well see the light of day, if a CD of the concert indeed is released, as Sullivan mentioned at several points during the show. Sullivan also made a point of instructing listeners in recording-session etiquette.

The first set included “The Way You Look Tonight,” Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes,” Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Mojave,” chestnut “Yesterday’s Gardenias,” Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father,” and Royal’s “Julie’s Lament.”

Set two: “The Toy Trumpet” (preceded by a piped-in tape of Shirley Temple singing that tune), “The Summer Knows,” Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser,” “Some Other Time,” “The Song is You,” and Sullivan’s traditional closing piece, “Amazing Grace.”

Sullivan, talkative and friendly, had lots to say on varied subjects, including:

  • His Christian faith: “I don’t know why Jesus led me to play jazz, but he certainly did.”
  • The meaning of jazz: “Jazz is America and freedom. That’s what it stands for.”
  • Why jazz is seemingly cherished more abroad than in its home nation: “A prophet is not without honor, even in his own country” (a New Testament quote)
  • The future for jazz: “Lo and behold, the world is going back to bebop.”
  • Hearing Charlie Parker play one of Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts.
  • Playing with the likes of regulars Tony Castellano (piano) and Steve Bagby (drummer) and many others, including Jaco Pastorius and Michel Legrand, during 14 years of performances at a Unitarian Universalist Church.

It’s great to see that my old friend Gumbi Ortiz, a superb conga player based in St. Petersburg, is on the road again with RTF guitarist Al Di Meola’s World Sinfonia. The group, touring in support of the just-released live album La Melodia, Live in Milano, recently played a New York show that was given a glowing review in Relix. The tour, with the sextet emphasizing the music of tango master Astor Piazzolla, continues in the U.S. through February, and then continues in Europe and Israel. Sadly, no Florida dates are on the itinerary.

Early Christmas Present: New Orleans Jazz Fest Lineup Coming Tuesday

Christmas will come early for Jazz Fest fans — the full lineup  for next year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be announced this Tuesday, Dec. 16, according to a report published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The roster for the 40th annual edition of the festival, April 24-26 and April 30-May 3, will be announced during a press conference scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (Central).

The announcement of the full lineup typically comes in January or February. Why so early this year?

Blame it on the economy.

“With the general economic downturn likely to affect leisure travel and ticket sales, the early announcement also allows for extra time to market the festival,” according to Keith Spera’s story in the Times-Picayune.

Expectations are that the 40th anniversary lineup will be as impressive a lineup as ever. On the list of artists confirmed to play, or expected to do so:

4/24 – Wynton Marsalis, Jazz Tent; Ellis Marsalis; Amanda Shaw

Wynton Marsalis4/25 – Wynton Marsalis (pictured, right), Congo Square

4/26 – Paul Sanchez

Solomon Burke4/30 – Solomon Burke (pictured, below); George Wein 4oth anniversary band with Jimmy Cobb, Esperanza Spalding, and Anat Cohen; Anders Osborne

First weekend (unspecified date) – Don Vappie

5/1 – Esperanza Spalding; Washboard Chaz Blues Trio; Dr. John;

5/2 – O’Jays; New Orleans/Helsinki Connection

5/3 – Jimmy Cobb’s “So What” band (celebrating the classic Miles album) with Wallace Roney, Javon Jackson, Vincent Herring, Larry Willis and Buster Williams; Juke Joint duo (Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm); Radiators; Dash Rip Rock; John Boutte; Voice of the Wetlands

(Know of other confirmations or solid rumors? Updates? Corrections? Send ’em my way)

Here’s my pitch (hope) for the Jazz Stage: Why not tap Sonny Rollins, (IMO) the greatest living jazz giant?

Also promised for the 40th edition of the fest is “a new ticket package option.” Some fans have expressed hopes that that means something along the lines of a multi-day discount, or perhaps steep discounts for locals and/or kids. Others have suggested that the new “option” could mean another type of V.I.P. package.